Seeing Red-Tape

Just almost got run over again. On the pavement, naturally. Yet, on May 1st (incidentally my mum’s ’21st’ birthday) this year the Chinese government made a national ban on smoking in public spaces. I’m sorry but banning smoking in public is what a country does when it’s got it’s shit together, so to speak. Smoking bans are for when the government have run out of proper problems to deal with. China has quite a few proper problems. Other than mass poverty, a vast and growing rich/poor divide, prostitution and black markets on an unbelievable scale I’d be sorting out those bloody morons who try to run down pedestrians on the pavement with their scooters before I passed any nanny-state public smoking nonsense.

I’m having a bit of trouble with my own government too. Thanks to the Chinese Visa brigade I’m not left with many pages in my passport (they have used up FIVE) and as I’m planning a wee excursion in August, thought it might be prudent to get a new one. So I nipped down to the British Consulate (1 hour by metro) to find it closed because it’s opening hours are from 9 to 12. So that’s three hours a day then. I’ve decided I want to get a job at a consulate or an embassy because they clearly have the fewest working hours of any profession in the world, and that includes my current job. Surely a consulate should be one of those places that remains open at all hours for sudden visa-based emergencies? No. Apparently you have to prove your commitment to your visa cause by arriving at the tiny sliver of opportunity that is their opening time. So I came home. I went back later in the week, at 9am to be safe and found the consulate was closed from 1st May to the 4th May for a public holiday. No. The public holiday that Chinese celebrated was the 1st May. But apparently my British representatives here in China get a four day sabbatical to go and sun themselves and bathe in rejected visa forms. So I came home. Today, I returned. It was open! Yay. The women gave me a form and told me I had to make the payment online. She also cheerfully informed me the process would take at least six weeks. I don’t know where to start here. I thought the internet was meant to make us faster, more free and informed, not lazy! Basically the Consulate is a glassed off booth that opens for 34 seconds a day that gives you a piece of paper and then then tells you to go on the internet. Great. Thanks Britain. It’s not people smoking in parks that’s bad for my health, it’s all this bullshit. Can’t we just ban bullshit? I’m sure it would be easy, there could be bullshit police with little bullshit detectors and stun guns for repeat offenders. And real guns for scooter drivers on the pavement too.

On a happier note, I found Ben wandering around my hall the other night at about 3am. He was tired and emotional. “Where I am I?” He was wondering aloud. “You’re in my apartment mate, shut up and go to sleep on the couch.” He looked at me very seriously, before yelling, “Don’t take me for a conjurer of cheap tricks!” He’s a little drunk australian Gandalf-impersonator. Form a queue ladies.

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